A guide to researching Australian and international fashion, designs, designers, industries, textiles and fabrics, patterns, tailoring, dressmaking, uniforms, accessories, and body art.

Textiles & fabrics

"To be human is to be involved with cloth."  - Textiles: the whole story, Beverley Gordon. These words serve to remind us that a study of textiles can lead to cultures across the world, past and present.

For introductory works, try searching the catalogue using terms such as textile fabrics. For textiles of a particular country, add the name of the country to your search, for example textile fabrics Japan or textile fabrics Indonesia.

For particular types of textiles,  search with specific terms such as tartans or hand weaving. For design, use search terms such as textile design.


Select “articles” from the drop down menu next to the search box and then use relevant keywords such as textile industry. Add the names of a specific country to narrow your search. Information about the textile industry can also be found in business databases.

These full text articles and databases can be accessed within the Library by anyone, and outside the Library by Victorian registered Library users.

See the Fashion industry tab for more information.

Other resources

Textile affairs - for information about apparel research and care labels.

The State Library also has research guides about trademarks and registered designs.

Textile science

For most of human history, clothing was made out of plant fibres or animal skin. The invention of rayon in the late 19th century changed this, and today we wear many types of synthetic fabrics, including fibres specially developed for very cold temperatures or for sportswear.

Science-specific databases and online encyclopedias are a good place to obtain technical information about textile chemistry and technology.

There are Australian Standards for textile and clothing production. These are accessible through State Library Victoria; see our Standards research guide.

To find books in our catalogue, search terms such as textile encyclopedias, textile handbook, textile fibers, textile fabrics, or textile industry Choose the Articles tab for any of these keywords to search for full text articles. The Kirk-Othmer encyclopedia of chemical technology is a an excellent source of technical information on the structure of textiles.

For information about patents for innovations in textile technology, see our Patents research guide.

Fabric and Fashion - ABC Radio

Hear Library Curator Carolyn Fraser's fascinating story about the history of chenille fabric on ABC Evenings.

Listen from 34:00 to hear listeners confess their historic fashion faux pas before Carolyn’s interview.

Couple in their hotel suite, Hampton Court Hotel, King's Cross, Sydney


From our Pictures collection

Fibremakers Ltd,  H88.40/1012

Fibremakers Ltd, Textile development department-Jacquard outerwear knitting machine at Bayswater, Victoria
Wolfgang Sievers H88.40/1012